Sixers Shopping Tobias Harris Ahead of Trade Deadline

Tobias Harris
LOS ANGELES, CA – MARCH 01: Philadelphia 76ers Forward Tobias Harris (12) looks on during a NBA game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Clippers on March 1, 2020 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

When thinking about the Sixers‘ future roster moves, just about everyone’s focus has been on the 6’10 elephant in the room who has yet to take the court so far this season. While finding the proper trade for Ben Simmons is essential to the Sixers becoming a true contender, it has become clear over the past few weeks that moving Tobias Harris may be just as crucial to the team’s success.

Some of his struggles are due to him being forced to wear shoes that he cannot fit in. The simple fact is, that Tobias Harris is not an ideal complement to Joel Embiid, which should be motivation enough to explore a trade.

Tobias Harris’ Struggles

Coming off a career-best year and with more opportunity given the absence of Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris had some extremely high expectations heading into this year. Through 30 games this season, Harris is averaging 18.4 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game. It isn’t the raw numbers that have been disappointing, but rather the inefficient fashion he is getting these stats that has been troublesome.

The 29-year-old is second on the Sixers in field goal attempts but shooting just 45.5% from the field this season. Harris has an effective shooting percentage of 49.1% so far this season which ranks 355th in the NBA. His shooting splits are down from last year in each area of the floor, and the possessions where Tobias attempts to back his opponent down before settling for a contested fadeaway jumper have become increasingly frustrating.

For the Sixers offense to fully function to its full abilities, Tobias Harris must be effective as a floor spacer. This is essential to providing Joel Embiid with the matchups and touches in the post in which he is so productive. Tobi is attempting just 3.7 three-pointers per game and connecting at a 29.5% rate on these long-range shots. This is the worst percentage Harris has shot since the 2014 season with the Orlando Magic and likely a reason why he has become more and more reliant on seeking out mid-range and post touches for himself.

Potential Tobias Harris Trade

While trading Tobias seems like a great option, it is much easier said than done. He is making just a shade under a max contract and carrying a cap hit of $36 million for this season. Some executives may hold out hope that Ben Simmons could reach new lengths with a change of scenery, but it is tough to imagine this is the case with Tobias Harris. The former 19th overall pick has already been traded seven times during his career and is a difficult balance of not good enough to be a primary option but too ball-dominant to serve as a proper complementary piece.

Swapping him in a trade would likely require the Sixers to attach young players and picks to motivate opposing GMs to pull the trigger. It seems even more likely that the deal would be some sort of swap for an opposing team’s unwanted players. If the trade manages to bring a return of a player or group of players that is a better fit alongside Joel Embiid, it is absolutely something the Sixers should look to capitalize on. However, it is important to note that he will likely be in talks with players such as John Wall, Buddy Hield, or Russell Westbrook, who are on similarly problematic contracts, and each carries their own issues.

The rumor that Daryl Morey is attempting to package Harris and Simmons in the same deal is especially interesting. Given the NBA’s financial restrictions that require the incoming and outgoing contracts to align, a trade of this magnitude would demand quite the return from a financial aspect. Harris certainly benefitted from playing alongside Ben Simmons and is missing the catch-and-shoot looks that Simmons was successful in creating. Forcing Harris to create his own shots at a higher rate could certainly be a cause of his struggles this year, and I am certain that this is a message Morey is portraying to opposing GMs.

Given the complex circumstances surrounding the Ben Simmons trade, it has always seemed likely that this will end in a multi-team trade. If Morey is set on including Harris in this same deal, it further increases these chances. Morey has had enough time to evaluate this Sixers roster, and the conclusion should be pretty clear that Joel Embiid is ready to have a contender built around him.

The realization that neither Simmons nor Harris are the proper compliments to his game is important, and capitalizing on Embiid’s prime makes this a time-sensitive issue. There is now under a month until the NBA trade deadline so expect these talks to continue to heat up. If Morey is able to ditch the high-priced contract of Tobias Harris for some better fitting pieces, it could go a long way to increasing the Sixers’ championship hopes.